FRANK LAMPARD wants to provoke a response from his faltering Chelsea squad by questioning their character.
Only victory against Lille tomorrow night will guarantee qualification to the knockout stages and the match comes at a time when confidence has taken a knock.
Chelsea have lost three of their last four Premier League games and have not won a home Champions League game since September 12, 2017 – a 6-0 rout of Qarabag.
Lampard said: “You do learn about your players in tough times, on the pitch and their personality.
“That was the disappointing thing in the Everton defeat. It wasn’t we were off it but I didn’t like there were individual contact moments throughout the game that we lost.
“So that’s a personality thing as much as anything else.
“They’re crucial for the players because I think you can be defined as an individual and as a group by success and what success looks like.
“And this means going into the next stage of the Champions League, which is a place we want to be in and a platform for the players to play.
“I used to love big nights as a player and they are the ones that stick in your mind.
“So it’s opportunities now for the team, particularly the young players, to make a mark.
“I think it’s good, I like the pressure of this game being a knockout and we are all talking about it.
Chelsea’s strength of character has been boosted massively by the return of defender Antonio Rudiger, who is named in a matchday squad for the first time since September.
The aggressive and athletic German centre-half has been missed almost as sorely as his troublesome groin, which he stretched while slipping on a pitchside metal plate at Wolves in September.
He is likely to partner Kurt Zouma at the heart of the back four.
And French powerhouse Zouma has called on his team-mates to take even more risks during the match, despite their wobbly run.
Errors cost Chelsea dearly at Everton last weekend but Zouma still thinks the players need to chill.
He said: “The manager just wants us to be more responsible in the games, take more risks maybe?
“That’s the message. He knows the quality we have in the squad — very talented players. We are a young team but he wants us to play like we play in training — to take risks.
“To play with no fear — go into the games and give everything.
“Maybe there has been a lack of communication in the games sometimes but we are a very good team and we will bounce back.
“Not long ago we won six games in a row.
“You always want to show the reaction and we are lucky because we play again on Tuesday so we can show the reaction and be good and we have to win.
“We are frustrated with the defeat, of course.
“That’s a message to us to answer. We have to answer and play with personality.
“Show character because we lost at the weekend. It is clear he wants to motivate us.”
Rudiger is likely to slot straight back into the starting line-up as Fikayo Tomori has a hip problem.
Chelsea’s coaches devised a bespoke drill programme to fast-track Rudiger to match fitness once his injury problems cleared up.
Chelsea lost their first Group H game at home to Valencia then fought back memorably to force a 4-4 draw against Ajax on a heady night at Stamford Bridge.
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The fact the Blues have won two of their three away games only adds to the uncertain nature of this group stage with the club’s campaign on a knife edge.
Lampard added: “There are expectations we should get through but it was a tough group with a slightly young feel to our team.
“There’s a few difficulties we’ve had and we’ve dealt with them very well. But there’s still work to be done.
“You don’t want to lose games or predict losing games but this was never going to be plain sailing.
“Teams and individuals need these tests. It comes with football so it’s a test for all of us.
“It’s good to have Rudi back. He looks fit and ready to go and I know he’s hungry.
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“Everyone spoke about youth at the start of the season and all these things and transfer bans.
“I think people overlooked that we started the season with five big players all injured.”
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